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5 of the Youngest Sailors to Sail Around the World Solo

5 of the Youngest Sailors. Imagine your 16, 17, or 18-year-old self…still in high school and not even fully developed both physically and mentally. You have no idea what you want to do with your life yet, and the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis consist of what grade you got on that math test earlier that morning or what type of pizza you want for dinner. Now imagine, at that same age, gearing up to go sail around the world all by yourself. Sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it? Well, as crazy and absolutely horrifying as that may sound, there has been quite a number of those same-aged kids who have completed such an adventure.

5 Youngest Sailors

Circumnavigating the world on a sail boat with no second pair of hands or even a friendly face to look at and be reassured all is going to be well, these following five young fearless teens set out and completed what many strive for several years to complete. Chasing their dreams and going after the type of challenge that is nothing but impressive and life changing, here are the ones who deserve at least a few round of applause from any and all; not just the World Sailing Speed Record Council who has already done so…

David Dicks – 18 – Australia

It was February of the year 1996, one that David Dicks surely will not soon forget. He loaded up and set sail on his 34-foot vessel named Seaflight and began a journey that he would soon find out would be filled with four-story-high waves, mechanical issues, fits of food poisoning, and plenty of grave challenges. Although he set out to obtain a record for nonstop NON-assisted circumnavigation, he ended up having to accept an essential bolt from the British Royal Navy that without it, it wouldn’t have been possible to finish. His journey was completed in November of 1996 and he has since been recognized as an Australian hero.

Jesse Martin – 17 – Australia

Another Aussie who just so happened to be only a couple weeks older than David Dicks set out on his journey that lasted from December 1998 to October 1999. Making the necessary precautions, Jesse avoided having to need assistance, meaning that he ended up sailing non-assisted during his time out at sea aboard his boat named Lionheart-Mistral. His 27,000-nautical mile journey can all be accounted for in his book “Lionheart: A Journey of the Human Spirit”.

Zac Sunderland – 16 – USA

A California native who managed to save up a total of $6500 from his after school job, making him free of any corporate sponsorship, Zac Sunderland became the first person younger than 18 to sail around the world completely solo from June 2008 to July 2009. An extremely impressive journey aboard his boat named Intrepid, it was only a matter of weeks until the young sailor below snatched up his title.

Michael Perham – 17 – England

November of 2008 saw the sails of Michael Perham, a son of a merchant naval officer and the grandson of a man who served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War, take off as he set out to claim the unofficial title of the youngest solo sailor to sail around the world. His 50-foot yacht held true to its abilities and he returned in August of 2009 at the age of 17 years and 164 days old.

Laura Dekker – 16 – Netherlands

And finally a young girl takes on the boys. A 16-year-old from the Netherlands with the ambition of many and the courage of a lion decided to head out in January of 2011. Despite an attempt by the Dutch court to keep her from embarking on her trip via a child protection authority, it was later lifted and meant she would successfully claim the new title of the youngest to sail around the world solo.


With such courage, ambition, eagerness, and downright guts, the five youngest sailors have gone on to be considered as some of the bravest of not only their age but of the entire sailing community. Facing harsh winds and weathers, challenges of navigation, and the fight of loneliness, they were able to come out victorious and accomplish something so many have tried and failed to do. Now, with more progressions being made yearly and the ability to have a whole world of knowledge and preparation material right at our fingertips, it is only a matter of time before several more set out on this same journey to sail around the world solo. And until then, we will be eagerly awaiting their arrival.

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